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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

You voted, you got it!
Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

Here's the recipe:

8oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 and ¼ to 3 and ½ cups AP Flour by spoon and scoop method (or 13-14oz)
¾ tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
12 oz (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts
1 tbsp vanilla extract (optional)

After measuring ingredients, the first step of cookie making is creaming the fats and sugars. Cream the butter and sugars in an electric mixer with the paddle until well blended and fluffy. The next step is adding the wet ingredients, the eggs and vanilla (one at a time). Lastly, add the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt)...slowly; I usually add in three batches. And finally add in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Chill dough for 30 minutes, then preheat oven to 350 and separate dough into 4oz portions--shaping into a ball, putting about 6 balls onto a sheet (always lined with parchment paper)(I use the air insulated cookie sheets, I find they keep my cookies from burning on the bottom)...this recipe should yield 12 cookies. Bake for 16-20 minutes. In my oven, 16 minutes is just about right...but remember from the video, if they look done...they're burnt! Pull them out a bit early, just as the edges begin to brown.

Here are some variations you can try:
1 and ½ cups of total can vary the brown to granulated ratio
you can take the baking powder down to as low as ½ tsp
you can take the baking soda down to as low as ¼ tsp if you use less brown sugar
you can use chocolate chips beside semisweet (a popular variation is ½ semisweet, ½ milk chocolate)
vanilla extract is optional, some people also use 2 tsp vanilla extract
you can use nuts other than walnuts, I've heard of good results with macadamia
you can use 1 tbsp cornstarch (though I find the cookies a bit 'chalky' on day 2)
you can use cake flower (though I find the cookies too chewy on day 2)
For more discussion on possible variations, you can view one of my original sources (the blog mentioned in the video) at sugoodsweets's a lot to go through, but definitely interesting reading!

With cookies this good, this easy...why would you ever buy cookies from the store?!?

I hope you liked the videos...let me know what you think, both of the videos and the cookies. I went for a longer video, split into two parts, rather than rushing through it all in less time. Hopefully that works out for y'all...if not, let me know that too!

And finally, next week I'll be putting up a new poll, so stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Supercenter Chef: Bread

Well, our first recipe video is up!  I'll embed it below...
First, let me apologize for all the video cutting...I had to do a lot of snipping to get under the youtube 15 min limit.

We're making easy homemade bread, here's the recipe:

15 oz bread flour
1/4 tsp RapidRise (instant) Yeast
1 and 1/2 tsp kosher salt (sure, regular salt is fine)
7 oz water (warm)
3 oz beer (any kind will do...experiment!)
1 tbsp white vinegar
a handfull of cornmeal
that's it!

As I watch the video, I realize that it looks a bit me, it's not...if you can make Bisquick biscuits, you can make this...promise!

Lets talk about what we'll need for this bread.  I strongly recommend buying a scale.  They're only about $10 and really will help make consistent foods.  If you refuse to buy one, you can substitute 3 cups for the 15 oz of flour, but use the scoop and level method, as a 5 oz cup of flour is pretty heavy. 

Also, I use Parchment Paper in the's wonderful stuff.  As opposed to wax paper, which is impregnated with wax, Parchment Paper is impregnated with silicon which has several advantages.  First, it will withstand the high baking temperatures we use here, also the dough won't stick to it, and finally when you use it for cookie recipes it will prevent spread.  So, go buy some, it's only a couple of bucks.

Lastly, I use a Lodge Enameled Dutch Oven.  They go for between 50 and 60 bucks.  This is the most expensive piece of cookware I own, and I use it at least weekly.  You can also use a cast iron dutch oven which should be about 10 bucks cheaper than my enameled version and will work fine in this recipe since we're using Parchment Paper.  If you don't want to invest that much money, use your imagination...the important thing is to use something heavy (so it will retain heat, which is needed for the initial 'spring' or oven rise), with a lid (which will help ensure the inside cooks before the crust is burnt), and without plastic handles (which will melt at the oven temperatures we're using).  I've also seen Pyrex, or Ceramic cookware recommended.  I saw one guy use a pizza stone with a pot over it for a, be creative!

Onto the cooking!

Into a mixing bowl, place the flour, yeast, and salt...then mix.  Next add the vinegar, beer, and water...mix again until all of the flour has been incorporated into the dough.  Now, simply cover the bowl with saran wrap and let sit for about 18 hours. 

I talk in the video about that 18 hours...chances are, the bread will have risen fully before then, but the 18 hours will help develop the flavor we want.  More than 18 hours and the dough will get progressively mushier and harder to work with...but you don't have to be exact--one or two hours on either side of the 18 should be ok (though I tend to err on the side of longer, if I have to).  Can't make 18 hours fit into your schedule?  You can refrigerate it at any point and pick up where you left off if you need to...some people even say that will further develop the flavor!

After 18 hours, lightly flour your counter top and transfer your dough.  Fold it several times to break up the big bubbles.  Put a square of Parchment Paper in a new bowl, spray that with nonstick vegetable oil, and dust the bottom with cornmeal (the cornmeal will not only help prevent the bread from sticking, but helps make a neat crust).  Now let's talk about the bowl can use anything, but the narrower it is, the taller your loaf will be.  I recommend using something like I use in the video.  You can use a skillet, but that produces a wider, shorter loaf.  Now, cover the bowl with a towel and let sit for two hours...

About an hour and a half into this second rise, you'll want to preheat your oven to 450 WITH THE DUTCH OVEN INSIDE.  Your baking vessel needs to be good and hot to help with that last 'oven rise.'

After preheating for 30 minutes, the dough should be ready...take out your dutch oven, pick up the dough by the Parchment Paper and drop it into your dutch oven...Parchment Paper and all.

Most recipes say to cook at 450 with the lid on for about 30 min, then uncover and cook for 10-15 min more...that doesn't work for this recipe in my oven.  It burns the crust.  I cook covered for about 40 minutes, check, and if the crust still needs some browning...let it cook uncovered for another couple of minutes.

Now remember...if you're using a dutch oven, it will retain a lot of heat, so when you pull it out of the oven, immediately take your bread out so it doesn't keep cooking.  Let cool for an hour or two (for me this is the hardest part), then cut and enjoy!

Also remember...the bread you buy at the store is more like a chemistry experiment than traditional bread.  It is engineered to have a long shelf life and taste like...well, I'd rather not say.  This stuff...this wonderful bread you've made, will only keep for a day or two.  Not that it will last that long!

I hope you liked our first actual recipe video...even more, I hope you actually cook it!  Let me know how it turns out...and stay tuned for more...